Game Review: Booster Trooper
Release: April 16, 2010
Genre: Action, Indie
Developer: DnS Development
Available Platforms: PC (Steam Network)
Players: 1 (2-12 online)
ESRB Rating: Unrated
Booster Trooper is the latest offering from indie developer DnS Development. Downloadable from the Steam network for $9.99, Booster Trooper offers both Single Player and Online Multiplayer action, and includes over 260 Steam Achievements to collect!
Booster Trooper pits you against up to 11 other human or computer controlled opponents in a battle of jetpack fueled skill killing. Self-labeled a Jetpack Platformer Multiplayer Arena game, you will find a variety of game modes available once you boot up. Single player will allow you to play against up to 11 computer controlled bots in either Deathmatch or Team Deathmatch, where multiplayer will add Destroy the Beacon and Capture the Flag game modes (and requires other humans to play – no bots). You can set the usual game limits for these modes, including time based, kill based, score based, etc. Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch are no-frills fare of killing the other people with your weapons. Capture the flag involves moving the flag from end to end, and Destroy the Beacon has you scoring points for destroying a randomly placed target. Destroy the Beacon and Capture the Flag are playable online only.
Once you choose your game mode, you can select from 8 different arenas, with locales varying from jungle areas to ruined temples to decadent city streets. Here you can also choose how many computer controlled players will be in the game, score limits and time limits. You then move to weapon selection. Booster Trooper lets you carry a primary weapon, secondary weapon and grenade to the field, and you’ll need all three. The selections are standard fare: the moderately powerful assault rifle, fireable from ground or air, the mini-gun which can’t be used in air and has a wind-up time, but packs a punch, a sniper rifle usable anywhere with a zoom option, the shotgun that will decimate up close, and the rocket launcher which will create large scale havoc. Secondary weaponry is a selection between a pistol and a lightsaber-like Armcutter. Grenades also is a two-choicer with standard throw and blow, and a delayed explosion grenade that lies dormant until you detonate it.
This wouldn’t be much of a 2D game without some Y-axis, and Booster Trooper has you moving around via jetpacks. You can jump as well to give a boost to your, ah, boost, and flying around will enable you to escape trouble or find new areas of the level to explore. Jetpacks have a limited amount of fuel that recharges when not being used. There are a variety of board pickups as well, such as health, ammo and big guns, so learning map layouts will help you escape certain doom with a jet blast to a health pack.
Level design is good, with ample area in each level to have a moment to yourself without being so spread out that you never see anyone to kill. There are also areas where snipers can be effective, and enough flat land both high and low that boosting doesn’t act as a temporary escape but rather a move to another battle zone. The game also looks good, with good detail in each level coupled with appropriate atmospheric effects. Online play was acceptable; there was minimal lag and appropriate response similar to the single player experience. There is decent enough weapon variety to make players of all kinds happy. The developer is also in-tune with the game, already releasing a major patch today (May 4th) that addressed several balancing issues I saw during gameplay, which is reassuring from a support standpoint. The different zoom levels of various weapons is a nice touch as well, with a particularly satisfying (if not slightly limiting) close up on the Armcutter.
As nice as the level design is, I couldn’t help but wonder how improved the game would have been with some interactive elements. Doors or platforms that could be activated, turrets that could be controlled, walls or buses that could have been destructible. There’s a lot of lost potential, especially given the care put into the level design. The music and sound effects are forgettable, with standard heroic music throughout, and uninspired weapon sounds. The propulsion from the jetpacks seems a bit off; they take a while to get going, yet stop on a dime once you release the left or right arrow key. AI ability is not adjustable and plays a little on the dense side, often clumping together in sections of the board, and sticking to one target regardless of what else is going on around it (including not acquiring a new, actively attacking target). The AI makes up for this with an uncanny ability to snipe and rocket shot from off screen, so if you are the primary target, keep moving. Guns could also use some balancing (and some of this was addressed in the previously mentioned patch), as the minigun made me much better at the game than I should have been. It also seems odd that there is no change in ability to boost based on weapons – minigun users should probably have less boosting ability or boost slower than someone with an assault rifle.
It’s worth mentioning that you should observe the specs for the game before purchasing, namely the graphic card capability. I noticed significant gameplay degradation playing with a 256MB video card, even on the lowest display settings. The resolution you play at also makes a difference, as higher resolutions enable you to see more of the playing field.
So what does it all add up to: Booster Trooper calls itself the “future of multiplayer shooters,” and I have to applaud the accuracy of the statement. Between the weapon balance issues, AI incompetence, and inconsistent propulsion dynamics (three fairly fundamental aspects to the game), this title smacks of the “release now, patch later” mentality that is starting to plague game releases. Couple that with some of the missed opportunities, and you’re left with a game that, while enjoyable, isn’t lasting enjoyment. Think of it as the Juicy Fruit of multiplayer shooters – it’s really good at first, but pretty soon you’re just left with a bad taste in your mouth.